Last month we headed down to Manchester to see the amazing Dermot Kennedy at Albert Hall. We had been looking forward to this gig for such a long time so we were pleased he didn’t disappoint nor did the venue. Everything from preshow communication, to the excellent venue staff and accessibility throughout the venue, were all top class. Here is my wheelchair accessible review of Albert Hall Manchester.
Booking Accessible Tickets At Albert Hall Manchester
“Albert Hall Manchester prides itself on being accessible to everyone.” There is a great section on their website dedicated to accessibility. It provides everything from booking tickets, what to expect on the night and the facilities. The process for booking accessible tickets is straightforward as you can book a standard ticket online and then fill out the online Access Requirements Form to let the venue know your access requirements. You can request a free PA ticket when filling out the form.
Last year we had tickets for Dermot at Liverpool, but unfortunately, the day before the gig the venue got in touch to let us know the venues lift had broken down. We were devastated especially as we couldn’t attend the Glasgow gig because the venue wasn’t wheelchair accessible. Dermot’s manager heard about it and offered us tickets to another show. We picked Manchester and couldn’t wait for the gig. It was exciting to be on Dermot Kennedy’s guest list. Thank you to his amazing tour manager for organising it all.
Arriving at Albert Hall Manchester
We were staying at Crowne Plaza Manchester Oxford Road for two nights which was very close to the venue. As soon as we approached the Albert Hall, we noticed there were people queuing up waiting to enter. One of the security spotted us straight away and asked if we were here for the gig. He immediately took us around the building to the accessible entrance.
The accessible entrance does have steps but then the amazing stairclimber appeared.
Stairclimber at Albert Hall Manchester
I was completely aware before arriving that I would be using a stairclimber to access the venue. The website clearly explains this along with details of the machine and the weight capacity which can accommodate 200kg.
The super lovely door supervisor, Tom was the one operating the stairclimber. He explained how it would work and helped guide me on it and secured my wheelchair in place. There was also the lovely Clare who helped Tom and stood at the front of me, holding my chair and making sure everything was OK.
They were both great, chatting away and making me feel comfortable the entire way up. The stairclimber took around twenty minutes to climb the stairs, but it didn’t feel that long. I think Tom and Claire being so nice and chatting to me made the experience easier and relaxed.
The accessibility area is on the second floor with 52 steps between the two floors. Each landing Tom would manoeuvre the stairclimber and line it up with the next set of stairs. I felt completely secure and the headrest helped support my head when tilted back.
Once at the top of the stairs, Tom unclipped the belts and held my shoulders back while I drove off the stairclimber to save me from falling forward because I don’t have any trunk control.
The stairclimber can look a little scary to some people, but I honestly thought it was great and not as daunting as it looks. It is amazing Albert Hall Manchester have the stairclimber to enable wheelchair users to access the building and attend gigs.
There are so many listed buildings that we haven’t been able to attend because there is no lift. It would be fantastic if they got a stairclimber like Albert Hall Manchester.
Barrowland in Glasgow is an example of this. There have been countless gigs we’ve missed out on because they aren’t wheelchair accessible. They now have a stairclimber but it can only accommodate manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchair users, like myself, still cannot attend.
This was one of the reasons we choose Albert Hall Manchester to see Dermot Kennedy because I couldn’t attend his Barrowland gig. Instead, we chose to drive the 500 miles round trip to see him in Manchester at an accessible venue that caters for powered wheelchairs. Well done Albert Hall Manchester.
Accessible Seating at Albert Hall Manchester
When we got to the top of the stairs, the lovely Em was waiting for us. Em was in charge of the accessible and VIP seating area.
Em had already asked some people to move before I got off the stairclimber, which was helpful and made it much easier when driving in. We were shown to our spot which Em made sure would give us the best view. Thank you!
Em explained everything to us and was always within view if we needed anything. She was very attentive and fully aware of everything that was going on and making sure no one was blocking our view.
There was a drinks runner the whole night so whenever we wanted a drink he would take our order and bring it back to us. Amazing!
During the gig, Em asked if I’d like anything from the merch stand. She explained everything that was there and even offered to go down and take photos on her phone to make it easier to see and decide what I’d like. This is the first time this has ever been offered to me at a gig and I really appreciated it. I choose a long-sleeved tour t-shirt. Thanks to Dermot’s manager for hooking me up with this. I love it!
A massive thank you to the amazing accessibility team at Albert Hall Manchester. They were all fantastic, friendly and so helpful. In particular a big shout out to Em, Tom and Clare who helped assist in getting me in and out of the venue via the stairclimber and looking after us in the accessibility area. Staff can make or break an experience, but it was lovely to meet them and they are another reason I’d happily visit Albert Hall again.
I was also super impressed with the communication and quick responsiveness from Charli the supervisor and accessibility coordinator. Charli always got back to my emails leading up to the gig, answering all my questions and even came to meet us on the night to ensure everything was alright. Great customer service from all the staff and accessibility team we encountered. Brilliant!
The accessible toilet was much bigger than I expected. I love when that happens. The toilet is on the other side of the accessible area. Although the staff said they’d help clear a path for me to get to the toilet, I decided to wait until the show had ended to use it as it seemed easier and saved having to get people to move mid-show. Other than the usual accessible features like grab rails, space for manoeuvring etc, there were toiletries including deodorant, hand cream and female sanitary products placed on the shelf and inside a box. Nice little touches that make a difference. Oh and the toilet had a RADAR key, which was great.
Video of The Stairclimber In Action
We were really excited to try the stairclimber for the first time and I was excited to share my experience with anyone who has never seen it in action so we decided to film it. I hope it helps give you an idea of what it is like to use the stairclimber.
Dermot Kennedy is quite simply outstanding. We’ve been waiting for such a long time to see him perform live, but all I can say is wow. He was absolutely worth the wait. Such an incredibly talented singer-songwriter and musician. Every song is performed at 200% and the power in his voice is unbelievable. Please go check him out as I’m sure you will agree.
Dermot’s set and lights all complimented each other to create an amazing atmosphere. The beautiful venue with its stained glass windows, high ceilings added that extra intimate feel. During his set, Dermot actually stopped playing as there were two people causing a bit of a bother, standing up and causing a nonsense to the people around them not to mention distracting Dermot due to being in his eye line. Dermot explained that people should be considerate of others around and behind them, and not to block anyone from seeing the show by standing up. I couldn’t have been happier at that moment. Dermot gets it!
Most people do not consider others when at gigs. If they want to stand up to dance and throw their arms about even if that means completing blocking the people behind them from seeing, then who cares, they will do it anyway. However, Dermot didn’t want that happening at his gig. Well done Dermot Kennedy.
Albert Hall Manchester is a fantastic venue with amazing disabled access and wheelchair accessibility. There are many venues that can learn a few things from Albert Hall. In particular, how they pride themselves on being accessible, how their staff are dedicated, friendly and disability aware, and of course the amazing stairclimber. Despite being a Grade II listed building and due to restrictions they are not able to have a lift, but instead of leaving it at that, they have purchased a stairclimber that not only takes manual wheelchairs but powered wheelchairs. The stairclimber is a great piece of equipment that enables powered wheelchair users to feel welcome and attend shows at this venue.
The interior of the venue is very impressive with what appears like it’s original (church) features including beautiful stain glass windows, high moulded ceilings and pillars. We loved the view from the accessibility area and the accessible toilet was really good too. Dermot Kennedy was outstanding and we can’t wait to see him again at the end of the year. We are so glad we decided to travel to Manchester to this accessible venue as it did not disappoint one little bit. Albert Hall Manchester, we will see you again soon (hopefully).
Have you been to Albert Hall Manchester? How did you find disabled access and wheelchair accessibility?
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